E3 2010: DJ Hero 2 shows some empirical fortitude

We dug DJ Hero about as much as any music game last year, but it was clearly a feature-light first attempt, and the lack of great multiplayer modes (and continued DLC) had our discs spinning back into their cases sooner than we would've liked. Luckily, Activision recognizes the very good thing it has, and seems poised with DJ Hero 2 to turn it into a proper, fully featured franchise that has the potential to break out with a much larger audience.

Above: More multiplayer modes means you can style on fools even harder this time

One of our biggest gripes about the original was the inability to do much in the way of freestyling with the turntable controller, but DJ Hero 2 flips the script on that, tossing in freestyle scratching and crossfader segments. Now you'll be able to put your personalstamp on the included mash-ups, and even stop and start the musicwhile freestyle scratching to cut up the track. And as you've no doubt heard, thanks to the endlessly repeated "two turntables and a microphone" tagline, DJ Hero 2 does indeed support lyrics in applicable songs, letting a third person sing along with the scratching.

We're looking forward to trying the new Empire career mode, in which you build an armada of clubs around the world (and run into various licensed characters along the way), but the real draw of DJ Hero 2 should be the six multiplayer modes. We tried out DJ Battle mode, which is something of a call-and-response variation where each jockey tackles his/her segment of the song before flipping it back to the other. Along with other new offerings like Star Battle, Accumulator, Checkpoint, Power Deck Battle, and Streak, it certainly seems like the new multiplayer offerings will make up for the disappointing, straight-up battles of the original.

Above: Real fans are already getting their Fila tracksuits and Kangol hats ready

While not knocking the stellar soundtrack of the original, we certainly thought it could've used more modern, popular tunes, and DJ Hero 2 looks to be heading strongly in that direction. DJ Hero 2 will include more than 70 original mash-ups composed of 100+ licensed tracks, and confirmed artists at this point include heavy-hitters like Kanye West, Eminem, Lady Gaga, Dr. Dre, and Rihanna.

We heard a few of the fresh remixes in our demo of the game, including Rihanna's "Rude Boy" mixed with Iyaz's "Replay," the Pussycat Dolls' "Don't Cha" blended with Pitbull's "Calle Ocho," and the irresistible pairing of Warren G'sclassic "Regulate" with Nelly's "Hot in Herre." As with the first game, many of the mash-ups don't seem to make much sense on paper, but they're incredibly well crafted and sound amazing in the game.

Let's face it: we're still pretty high on DJ Hero despiteour relativelyshort-term fixation with the original. The prospect of a thicker, fleshed-out sequel with more contemporary jams on the soundtrack has us psyched about scratching and spinning the virtual vinyl again come this fall.

Jun 16, 2010

Andrew Hayward
Freelance writer for GamesRadar and several other gaming and tech publications, including Official Xbox Magazine, Nintendo Power, Mac|Life, @Gamer, and PlayStation: The Official Magazine. Visit my work blog at http://andrewhayward.org.